The International Pearl-poet Society is sponsoring six sessions at the 55thInternational Congress on Medieval Studies (May 7-10, 2020) at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.
1) Form and Structure in the Cotton Nero A.x. Manuscript (Roundtable)
Beyond tightly structured narratives and precise poetics, Cotton Nero A.x. contains diverse material from 12 illustrations and marginalia to ornate initials. Recent scientific and technological advancements from pigment analyses to multispectral imaging have begun to reframe our understanding of these paleographic details. Building on analyses from scholars like Murray McGillivray and Christina Duffy (2017) and Piotr Spyra (2014), this session invites participants to reconsider the connection between the intricate paleographic and narrative forms of this dynamic manuscript.
2) “In aventure þer mervayles meven”: The Mystical Tradition in the Pearl-poet and Analogues
In Pearl, struggles to comprehend and accept the ineffable, torn by his overwhelming grief and attachment to the material world. This tension recurs throughout the Pearl-poet’s works and has fascinated scholars from Nicholas Watson (1995) to Cecilia A. Hatt (2015) as they explore the poet’s relationship to, and understanding of, the Church. Renewed critical attention to movements like the medieval mystics calls for a reexamination of the poet’s other religious influences, so this session will explore the intersection of the mystical tradition and the works of the Pearl-poet and analogues.
3) The Pearl-poet: Modern Connections, Adaptations, and Evolutions
As one of the more prominent poets from the fourteenth century, the Pearl-poet continues to captivate audiences with his nuanced and timeless narratives, inspiring centuries of writers and artists. This session will explore the resonances and continued relevance of this prominent poet’s work in modern renderings, films, stage productions, and other media.
4) Acceptance and Resistance: Emotional Tension in the Pearl-poet
From a distraught Dreamer and a wrathful, anthropomorphized God to a petulant prophet, the Pearl-poet’s characters are often complex figures struggling not just in morally complex situations but also with tumultuous emotions. Some find peace with their experiences while others remain besieged by or succumb to their inner demons. This session will delve into how the poet’s complex characters resolve or resist their deep emotional turmoil.
5) The Final Frontier: Embodied Space in the Works of the Pearl-poet
The Wilderness of Wirral, a green woodbine, a bejeweled stream, the Green Chapel. Well-known for intricate spatial descriptions, the Pearl-poet often uses these locations as the focal points of significant human experiences, forging an intimate connection between mental and physical environment. This session will explore the spaces and places in the Pearl-poet’s works and what they reveal about the characters who inhabit them.
6) Ain’t Misbehaving: Medieval English Women Who Do Good Work by Nefarious Means
Co-sponsored with MAM
Christian or social/patriarchal desires often dictated rules of best behavior for women, but, likely influenced by medieval English women’s actual behavior, narratives often require female characters who step well beyond such boundaries. These discrepancies open up meaning for the texts being analyzed while providing insight into gender relations within and beyond their constructed narratives.
We invite abstracts from scholars of all levels. Papers may deal with one or all the poems by the Pearl-poet. Paper sessions will consist of either three 20-minute or four 15-minute presentations; all paper sessions will afford at least 30 minutes for discussion. As lively conversation and collaboration are key goals, the pedagogical roundtable can accommodate up to six participants presenting for 7 or 8 minutes, with approximately half the session reserved for discussion.
Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) and the completed Participant Information Form (https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions) by
01 September 2019 to
Ashley E. Bartelt
Northern Illinois University
Department of English, Reavis Hall, Room 215
1425 W. Lincoln Hwy.
DeKalb, IL 60115-2828